Every afternoon Greta the hen slips out of our chicken run, lays a single egg, and then returns to join her less adventurous sisters inside the pen.
I know Greta goes to her secret place inside a bag of pine shavings. Every day she leaves one smooth, pale green egg in the private nest, and then returns to the coop. When I turn the hens loose in the afternoon Greta pretends she hasn’t already been out, and I go along with it. I’m playing “don’t ask, don’t tell” with a chicken.
Yesterday evening I was cleaning the coop while the hens were free. As the other ladies picked over the new mulch in my flower bed, Greta stayed to watch me work around her nesting area, following my every move with beady her eyes. Her concern was obvious: She didn’t want me messing with her spot. She suspected I would be moving the pine shavings in her nest. This was a problem, because I needed the pine. I ended up using shredded paper instead of pine shavings in the coop, so Greta wouldn’t be upset.
Don’t we all need a secret place and the time to go there? I often find time to walk in the woods bordering our land. We’re lucky to have miles and miles of federal forest behind our house, where I can ponder life and find treasures like bird nests, turtle shells, wildflowers, and unusual rocks.
Here’s what author Gin Getz says about her forest in the San Juan Mountains: This is my intimate observation post. My walking meditation. Where I go to get inspired, where poems are born, and new stories. And where I see the trees. Up close and personal. One on one. In my face. At my feet. Against my back. For often my walk is interrupted. Sitting on the carpet of freshly fallen needles, my back against a fat old trunk. Gunnar catches up, or rather, back tracks to find me, and sits beside me, on guard. I look up through the empty branches and see the sky.
Of course people in the city have secret spots: a favorite coffee house, a comfy chair, the porch, the back steps, a park, a balcony, and a thousand other places where the spirit can expand, or contract, as need be.
We do need secret places, no matter where we live – even if that space is only inside our minds. I think our creative spirits need to go out into the world and come back again to a quiet place where we belong to no one but ourselves. We should be able to say, “I won’t be available for an hour. I’m going to sit on my nest.”
The Color of the Wild: An Intimate Look at Life in an Untamed Land.